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The Timeless Art of Ethnography

October 13th, 2011 | Categories: Blog Tags:

Intern Isaac is all moved in at Stanford.  After a lengthy cross-country road trip, Isaac has settled in to his dorm, made friends, and acclimated to the college experience. He’s just finished his third week of classes, which he has found to be difficult, but ultimately enjoyable.

He shot us an email the other day about one of his classes in particular – it’s a humanities course that focuses on the journeys and ideologies of four ancient and classical historians and philosophers.  A major theme of the course is the ethnographic accounts of these historians.  The focus on these ethnographies caught his eye, as we at MVP also have experience in the ethnographic field.

Ethnography is the detailed research and study of a particular culture or group of people.  Isaac read Herodotus’ the Histories, which studies the interactions of the Ancient Greek and Persian empires, their geographical layouts, military conquests, and cultural interactions.  Herodotus describes their cultures and customs in great depth, true to the ethnographic style.

2500 years later, these same ethnographic accounts are still in use.  Here at MVP, we utilize ethnography to capture the behaviors, preferences, and buying habits of consumers.  We capture, on film, the behind-the-scences actions of consumers for large advertising firms like BBDO in New York. Working with anthropologists, we use this video to supply useful information to these advertising agencies.

The medium has changed, as video has fulfilled the demands of a faster moving world, but the overall essences of the art is still the same.  Centuries after Herodotus, the same ethnographic studies are in full gear at MVP.

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